If I can't manage a whole blog post, surely I can do quick takes, right? If I start a day early? Maybe?
The weather lately has been perfect. Mostly it's been cool and breezy, some days even breezy enough to keep the mosquitoes off! We can actually use the back yard sometimes!
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but we live two blocks from the Shenandoah River. As a result, there is really nothing we can do to keep from being overwhelmed with mosquitoes. The back yard, being shady, is so thick with them we usually don't go out in it all summer. Within two minutes you're swarmed with them; while you're slapping one, another is getting the back of your neck. The front yard isn't usually so bad, but we still have to stay in after three p.m. or so during mosquito season. Only a good windy day keeps them under control at all.
This cool weather has had a few effects: one, we've been going to the park or on a walk almost daily. I love that. It's a huge mood booster to get out of the house, and the kids behave better when they'd been out as well. The downside is that I get so physically tired that I don't want to do anything when we get home!
Another effect of the cool weather is that I am so strongly reminded of being pregnant -- since I've gotten pregnant in the late summer and fall twice now -- that I actually feel sick. I know for certain that I'm not pregnant, but when the breeze hits me I suddenly feel kind of like gagging. It's weird. I think it's the smells in the air this time of year, which are actually very pleasant, but remind me of being sick.
This past week we discovered Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. It's a spinoff of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which we all love, so I was hopeful. Unfortunately I hate it.
I like Mr. Rogers for the following reasons:
*He talks about feelings a lot and how to manage those feelings -- an important lesson.
*It's live action and slow-paced, so it isn't overstimulating.
*Mr. Rogers has a nice voice I like to listen to, not a shrill fakey one like EVERY other kids' show I've ever seen.
*It has a lot of real-life stuff, like meeting people with disabilities or learning where milk comes from. I loved the episode where a fireman shows off his mask and explains what to do in a fire, or when Mr. Rogers goes to a restaurant to show what you do at one.
*Mr. Rogers was a real person, who really did care, and it shows. When he says "I love you just the way you are," he means it.
Daniel Tiger ONLY has point 1. It's a show about feelings. But it's animated, jazzed up, fast paced, run by imaginary animal children, and SHRILL.
There is one improvement made on the show, which is that the songs are improved a bit and sound a little less like what someone made up in the shower. But even there, they don't seem to know what the point of those songs was. Why change "It's such a good feeling to know you're alive, it's such a happy feeling when you're growing inside," to, "It's such a good feeling to play with a friend, it's such a happy feeling when they lend you a hand"? Not everything has to be about playing with other kids. I liked how Mr. Rogers talked about things that you can do and feel all by yourself.
Daniel Tiger doesn't look like the Daniel Tiger in the original show, who was gray and very quiet and shy. That was kind of the point of Daniel, that he was not a typical tiger and he needed to learn to love himself the way he was. But the new version has a Daniel who is very much a typical tiger and has no particular personality. In fact, there are no personalities. O the Owl (is that X the owl's son, or little brother?), Katarina Kitty Cat, Prince Wednesday, etc., have no actual defining features besides looks. What happened to bossy X, sensitive Hen, crotchety Lady Elaine? Lady Elaine does appear, but she looks very boring and typical instead of being rosy-cheeked and wart-nosed.
I do like the songs about feelings, like "When we do something new, let's talk about what we'll do," or, "Grown-ups come back." Marko's been singing them, and I don't mind them. But when I tried to sing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" and Marko wanted me to only sing it the way Daniel Tiger does ... I decided I can't let him watch it anymore. I want to sing the old songs. It's like the directors didn't realize a sweet, long song while Mr. Rogers puts on a sweater and changes his shoes would teach my son to put on a sweater and shoes! That's an important part of the show, you can't replace it with animation and sparkles and backup vocals!
Yeah, I'm a little mad about it. So I went to YouTube to watch the old show the way we used to, and it was TAKEN DOWN! Every single clip over five minutes appeared to be gone! Netflix doesn't have it, we don't have Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime ... I think we're out of luck.
I think Mr. Rogers would be ticked. After all, he testified before Congress in favor of VCRs, because he wanted parents to be able to tape his show and watch it with their kids whenever they wanted. And now that he's dead we're not allowed to watch his show anymore. *angry face*
This has honestly got me wanting to make a kids' show myself. I don't have time or energy or resources, but if I did, here's what I'd make.
It would be live-action, and the hosts would be a grandma and grandpa who lived on a farm. Mostly it would be just them, showing you around the farm and the different chores they do. The animals would all be important characters. Sometimes they'd go to town and show you the different people there, or they would get visitors to the farm like the mailman or the vet. And sometimes the grandkids would come and they'd sing songs and play games.
Every episode, there would be a "classic literature" bit, where Grandma or Grandpa gets out a book of poetry and reads some famous children's poems, like Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll pieces. That would be the only part of the show with animation, illustrating what's happening in the poem.
There would also be music, both classical and children's stuff, and also crafts like basket-weaving and cooking that the hosts would show you how they do. There would be lots of talk about feelings, both monologues (like Mr. Rogers used to do) and examples, like if Grandma and Grandpa were angry at each other, or one of the grandkids was scared of something.
It would be awesome. I'm just throwing that out there in case anyone has the ability to make it, and wants to release an episode every week for free on YouTube. You totally should. Or I will, when I'm old.
We are seriously contemplating getting chickens. Because we live in town that is stupid and regressive, there are legal implications, so if we do, I probably won't tell you about it. But I heard a rooster crow in the neighborhood just yesterday, so it's not like we'd be the only ones. I do have to ask my neighbors though.
My dream is to have a chicken tractor with two or three hens for now. That would take care of most of our egg needs, as well as keep the weeds down in the backyard, and perhaps root out some of the bugs. And it would be good practice for when I have a homestead and go in for chickens in a bigger way -- laying hens and meat birds, all free-ranging in a fruit orchard. (No place buggier than a fruit orchard!) I've got my heart set on Australorps for that setup. But for now, I'd take whatever I could find on Craigslist. You can get a laying hen on there for $12. Since the tractor can be made from salvaged materials, this would be a very low-cost project. Cheaper than our dog, anyway!
Despite squash bugs AND squash borers in the pumpkins, slow-growing broccoli, and late tomatoes, we are eating green beans and carrots at least. Michael's a fan!
More quick takes are at Conversion Diary.